Cholesterol Screening in Children

What is cholesterol and what does it do?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream and all the cells in the body. Your child can get cholesterol in two ways:

  • The liver makes it
  • Eating foods high in cholesterol, saturated fat or trans fats

Too much cholesterol can increase your child’s risk of heart disease. Your child is at even greater risk of heart disease if he has high LDL (bad cholesterol).

High cholesterol is screened with a blood test, called a lipid profile. Your child should not eat anything for 12 hours before the blood test. This screening tests your child’s total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and triglyceride level.

What the results mean

  • Total Cholesterol: Less than 170 mg/dL
  • LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol): Less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol): Greater than 40 mg/dL
  • Triglyceride: Less than 150 mg/dL

If your child has high cholesterol, he should meet with a nutritionist to discuss heart healthy eating. You’ll then want to repeat cholesterol level testing 3-6 months after dietary changes have been made.

Related patient instructions: Improving Cholesterol and Triglycerides.